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Showing 1-14 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 19, 2012 9:25:39 PM PDT
Jade13 says:
Can some one explain to me SIMPLY what the difference between point and shoot cameras and DSLR?
I would like to have a camera for casually taking pictures of mostly the great outdoors. Suggestion are more than welcomed!

Posted on May 19, 2012 10:58:17 PM PDT
A point and shoot camera is a camera in a small package with a built in lens that has zoom capability. Most can fit in a shirt pocket. They typically are 5 to 10 times slower at taking pictures than most SLR cameras.

An SLR camera is a larger camera body that has large (and smaller) interchangeable lenses. They allow greater control over picture taking. I use my SLR as a point and shoot because I can operate it very quickly. They're bulkier than a point and shoot camera, but have more flexibility. You can control exposure time, shutter speed...just about everything. Most smaller cameras like the point and shoot don't offer much in the way of that. You sacrifice control over size. I can acquire, focus and take 5 images per second with my SLR. Can't do that with a compact camera. SLR cameras cost a lot do their lenses.

I have several small cameras that I carry around in each vehicle for whatever reason. These days, the lens elements in small cameras are really good and the pictures they take are amazing...even for the low cost cameras under $300.

In reply to an earlier post on May 19, 2012 11:15:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2012 9:53:54 AM PDT
Well if you're looking for the best P&S, then you should check out a micro 4/3rds system (MFT) or Sony Nex-5/7. These cameras offer better IQ since they have a larger sensor and offer better low light IQ, as well as being more versatile with exchangable lenses. If you're looking for the best IQ of the outdoors, then that would depend on constrast range: one of the advantages of a DSLR is that it offers better manual controls and lens options for fine tuning exposure.

Posted on May 20, 2012 3:28:36 AM PDT
SIMPLY? You're in the wrong place. Watch this conversation quickly turn into a pixxing match about who knows more about theoretical photons being collected into theoretical photo sites and the pixel pitch co-efficient of the square of the 16-bit higher magnitude of the phase delineator, with ample vague obsolete website references to prove each side equally proficient not at taking photos but at doing scientific experiments in mom's basement.

What Philip said, ignore the better IQ for the default colorspace comment unless you actually know what that means. I'm guessing that since you asked a basic question to begin with you don't. Please don't get them going.
Your reply to But I'm feeling much better now...'s post:
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In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 8:18:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2012 8:26:50 AM PDT
This thread would only devolve to basic photography terms if you post wrong information spun from fanboy forums, and provide insults instead of reason. The OP was asking what the difference between a P&S vs DSLR was: there's no need to post things like your bogus assessment of one RAW converter being better because it "looks nicer".

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 8:26:44 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 8:29:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 20, 2012 8:31:04 AM PDT
There you go claiming you don't need photography knowledge because you're too busy shooting, ONCE AGAIN. Anyway, back on topic. The OP was asking for technical differences between DSLRs and P&Ss.

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 9:14:20 AM PDT
Typically a small sensor (sensor chips in some models are smaller than your small fingernail). Small sensor allows for small camera body and minuscule lenses with wide zoom ratios (since a 10X ratio starting at 5mm only extends to 50mm and might be equivalent to 25-250mm on a film SLR).

Drawbacks: typically limited aperture range -- f3 to f8 being common (anything smaller than f8 tends to have too much diffraction blurring). Wide ratio zooms are compromises -- optics just don't give perfect quality when shifted around to change focal length. In the old days, a 3X zoom was considered extreme.

The small sensors with so many pixels are "noisy" when running at higher ISO settings (so, poor low-light capability).

Few still have optical viewfinders (Canon G12 still has an optical finder, along with a shoe for external flash -- built-in flash is only meant for "daylight fill", and not to be primary light source). Using an LCD panel for composing the shot means you are holding the camera in a very unstable position to start with, and with the small sizes they have no inertial resistance to movement (finger twitches, pulse) -- hence the spread of image stabilization systems in P&S.

The lower-priced models only support scene-based shooting modes; no manual overrides, no PASM modes.

"Single Lens Reflex" (SLR: since 99 and 44/100% of current market cameras are digital, I don't feel a need to emphasize the "D"; it meant something when there was only one or two digital models in a line-up full of film bodies, but these days one is more likely to emphasize "film" if the body is /not/ digital):

Larger bodies, interchangeable lenses, using the same (single) lens via a mirror (reflex) to feed the optical viewfinder. Most common are APS-C sized sensors (about 0.67"x1"); professional bodies use so-called full-frame sensors (1x1.5" -- the same size as 35mm film frame, hence "full frame"). These large sensors have large pixels which can capture more photons in low-light situations and are less noisy as you boost the ISO value (P&S become unusable past 400-800 ISO, many SLRs these days default to using 400 unless very bright conditions when they may drop to 100, and are usable past 1600-3200 ISO).

ALL SLRs support PASM modes (Program, Aperture priority [Av for Canon], Shutter priority [Tv], and Manual). Program was the first full auto-mode (a mode that adjusted both the shutter and aperture in accordance with a "programmed" scale -- typically shifting both in half-steps from fastest shutter&smallest aperture to the lens' widest aperture; as it got dimmer and the lens could no longer get wider, only the shutter speed would drop); Program mode was introduced in the late '70s (Canon A-1 was one of, if not the, first cameras with all four modes P/A/S/M).

Consumer SLRs still have scene-based modes; professional bodies drop those leaving only the PASM modes (and maybe a few "custom" modes which have to be preset by the user). A strong recommendation is that one should learn /what/ the camera does in a scene-based mode, so one can set the camera to the same behavior using the PASM modes -- because scene-based modes can't be tweaked, you get what the camera maker decided to use; but PASM "clones" can be adjusted for situations that are outside the regular conditions.

While there are wide ratio zooms available (18-200mm), for best image quality, one should obtain shorter ratio zooms (or even better, a selection of non-zooming "prime" lenses). Instead of a single 18-200mm, an 18-55 and a 55-250, for example.

Consumer zooms tend to be variable aperture (that is, the widest aperture -- needed for low-light shooting) changes from around f3.5 at the short end of the zoom to f5.6 (Tamron tends to go even worse, f6.3) at the long end. BTW: P&S are also variable aperture.

Better grade zooms ($$$$) will be constant aperture; some are just f4 which may not sound like much better than an f3.5-5.6 lens, but it is a stop faster at the long end, when one most needs the light. The best zooms are f2.8 throughout the zoom range.

Prime lenses can be had with f2, f1.8, f1.4, and even some f1.2 apertures -- these excel at low-light shooting.

Posted on May 21, 2012 1:23:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 21, 2012 1:26:37 PM PDT
simply put, dslr cameras are bigger and far more capable than a point n shoot camera. they focus quicker, have superior image quality, and removable lenses. they also have optical viewfinders to look through, which i love. they're alot more expensive, but you get what you pay for. wow this is a tough question to answer without getting technical! here's a question for you! do you feel limited by your point n shoot? do you feel its slow to focus? do you think the image lacks adequate quality (sharpness, color, contrast, etc.)? do you wish you could zoom farther? do you wish you could snap off many shots in a second or two? if you answer yes you should look into a dslr. you sound like a very basic user, i would suggest one of nikon or canon's beginner dslrs. the nikon d3100 and canon t3 or t2i are both affordable and will offer you much much more in terms of camera performance and image quality. dont sweat the brand decision much, whatever you get will be leaps and bounds beyond what a point n shoot can do. i own the d3100 and the more advanced d7000 (nikon), and i love them. i've used my friend's t2i alot and i really enjoy it as well. i suggest going to your local best buy or even target and holding both in your hand. get a feel for it and the buttons/layout, see which one really fits you best, and buy. dont sweat the decision much, you're getting a winner either way. if you have any questions about the d3100 and my experiences with it, please feel free to ask. i've shot the canon t2i alot but i know the d3100 much much better. i can offer what i know on the t2i but hopefully an actual t2i owner can chime in if you request further info. good luck, let us know if/what you get! simple enough? ;)

Posted on May 22, 2012 11:28:49 AM PDT
T. Campbell says:
Cameras which have physically larger sensors and lenses are capable of producing better images -- as a generalization. A "DSLR" (Digital Single Lens Reflex camera) has a sensor which is many many times larger than what you'd find on any point & shoot. If borrow someone else's analogy: If you think of the "sensor" on a DSLR as being the size of a postcard, then the sensor on a point & shoot camera would be about the size of the postage stamp in the corner of that postcard... the difference is that huge.

The ability to create an image with a tack-sharp subject and deliberately blurred background (aka "bokeh") is only realistic with a DSLR or a camera with a large sensor and lens. Tiny point & shoot lens sizes and sensor sizes aren't capable of producing the same results. There are other advantages as well -- although they get technical and you specifically asked us to keep it simple.

A point & shoot camera is really all about convenience. You get reasonably good photos as long as the shooting & lighting conditions are conducive to the limits of a point & shoot (they're usually notoriously slow to respond when you press the shutter button and also often fairly limited in less-than-ideal lighting.) The lens is permanent and while it's a good general-purpose zoom, the image quality is usually average. Most any camera can take decent pictures outdoors on a sunny day. The difference becomes more apparent when you try to take photos in more challenging circumstances.

On a DSLR, you have much more control over the outcome. You can switch lenses when needed so that you can select a lens which is truly optimized for the type of photography you need to do. Some of these lenses will gather MUCH MUCH more light allowing shots that would be impossible to capture (with any level of acceptable quality) on a point & shoot. They are capable of taking fully automated shots -- so at that level they are not necessarily any more complicated than using a point & shoot. Except that with a DSLR the number of modes offers much greater flexibility and control than would ever be possible with a point & shoot.

There are certain types of shooting conditions which really _require_ a lens that's up to the task (so even the default "kit" lens that comes with a DSLR won't be up to the task.) But the difference is that with a DSLR, getting one of those lenses (or renting one) is actually a viable option. With a point & shoot it's not even an option -- you'd just have to buy a new camera if you really _needed_ to get the shot.

The focusing system on a DSLR is fundamentally different as well. Due to the design differences of the camera and the reflex mirror, it's possible to use special dedicated focus sensors that wouldn't be possible to use on a point & shoot without increasing the body size rather substantially. This focusing system makes the camera EXTREMELY fast at focusing & shooting in situations where a point & shoot simply cannot keep up. Basically a DSLR can snap the photo the moment you press the shutter button -- there is basically no perceptible delay whatsoever. On a point & shoot the delay is long enough that you can quickly get frustrated that the camera keeps failing to take the shot at the "decisive moment". By the time the shutter activates on a point & shoot, you've often already missed the shot.

The viewfinder on a DSLR is intended for you to look through the camera lens, rather than viewing the image on an LCD screen. Although the LCD screen option is also possible on a DSLR, it's hard to see LCD screens in bright daylight -- so looking through a real viewfinder is much easier.

There's really only one downside to the DSLR... and that's it's size. It's a physically larger camera body. So there's really no chance of putting it in your pocket like you could do with a point & shoot. As such, you might actually have the point & shoot with you rather than leaving it behind because it's not convenient to bring it everywhere.

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2012 3:05:25 PM PDT
The differences have been wonderfully explained to you by the others. I would only add this: there are some very sophisticated cameras that are still technically called 'point and shoot' but they offer some of the best of both worlds. Sometimes called hybrid or bridge cameras, this type may really fit your needs. I shoot mostly outdoors, mostly scenics, and I love my Canon SX 40 camera. It offers full manual controls and metering, a great range of zoom lens, and even can use filters with an adapter ring. The lens is somewhat fast, at f2.8 and starts at wide angle. If you are not shooting action or portraits, it fills most needs, and is offered at an incredible price.

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2012 3:26:24 PM PDT
If you decide on a point and shoot for "taking pictures of mostly the great outdoors" and are interested in shooting sprawling landscapes, check out ones that feature 'ultra wide angle' (look for an 'equivalent focal length' starting at 24mm or less).

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2012 4:36:19 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 25, 2012 8:35:36 AM PDT]

Posted on May 25, 2012 7:21:24 AM PDT
We do tend to get into sniping contests about trivia here, and this question could be a loaded one. The simple answer is, DSLRs make better quality pictures in a wider variety of situations, but they are bigger and more expensive than P&S cameras. DSLRs are also faster in many ways. There are P&S cameras that make good pictures, because they have high quality sensors like DSLRs, but they are also expensive. And, from there, it starts to get not simple to explain. Photography is all about trade offs. You can have this, or that. DSLRs are big, and expensive, which means they can be fast, and shoot high quality pictures in low light. And, within the category of DSLR, there is still a wide range of differences. A very good P&S costs as much as an inexpensive DSLR, and might have similar qualities in some ways. A big P&S might compare to an inexpensive SLR in other ways, for less money. Trade-offs.
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Discussion in:  Photography forum
Participants:  10
Total posts:  14
Initial post:  May 19, 2012
Latest post:  May 25, 2012

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